shame to see incidents of rape and sexual assault…..”After all, a person who is raping is somebody’s son. As parents have
we asked our sons where he is going? We need to take responsibility to
bring our sons who have deviated from the right path”…….
The Prime Minister in his independence day speech made an important appeal to all Indian parents: please take care of your boys so that they do not grow up to hurt girls. He also talked about the curse of communal violence. He should have been more specific about how Hindutva-vadis are violating Hindu codes of behavior. Also on many occasions girls are killed by their own families, whether in the womb or when in (un-authorized) love.
The PM should have simply said: Girls are
goddesses. If you touch them, harm them in any way, your health, wealth, happiness,
education, dignity….even your daily roti will be yours no more.
But this is not a day for quibbling. It is a good start. We need to see if fine words will turn into determined actions. The first and most important step would be to ensure that the girls go to school and stay in school.
The call for Purna Swaraj (total freedom) was made on January 26, 1930 (ironically in Lahore). Today in 2014, we need to re-state the demand for total freedom once more.
Purna Swaraj will only come when all our girls are able to walk with their face uncovered and their head held high. When they can marry a boy of their choice regardless of caste, creed or religion. When they can choose not to marry at all, or walk away from a marriage. When they can choose when to have a baby (and how many and what gender). When they can inherit the same wealth as their brothers. When they are not killed for dowry. When it is recognized that the lady in the house must eat properly. When they get equal opportunities for education and work. When they can lead pujas and cremate their fathers…..
Both men and women have equal rights and responsibilities towards society. However nature is not fair. Women bear the heavy burden of bearing children. Men must take up the grave responsibility of bringing up the children such that we live in a more equal, more just society.
survivor. Assailed when she was 15, Laxmi’s PIL in the Supreme Court led
to a directive for regulation of acid sales and greater compensation
for survivors. Today, the 24-year-old, awarded the International Women
of Courage felicitation from US first lady Michelle Obama, is an
activist with the Stop Acid Attacks campaign. Laxmi discusses social
changes around survivors, how hurtful remarks are decreasing — and what
independence means to her:
What progress has occurred since the Supreme Court directive on regulating acid sales?
There’s practically no improvement — even when the court mandated one
can’t sell acid without a licence, there’s very little regulation on
this. We started a campaign where volunteers secretly filmed buying
acid. They got it easily.
But awareness has increased. There are fewer problems for survivors
in getting jobs. Last year, two women got government jobs, albeit after a
Earlier, one heard nasty comments from people — but things have
changed. Now people respect us — some even want to get pictures clicked
Women have begun to speak out — and speaking up changes things.
Today, acid attack survivors are getting married or are in
relationships. I’m in a relationship too — everyone knows about it! I’m
happy Alok Dixit, founder of Stop Acid Attacks campaign, recognised me
for who i am rather than my face.
Did you endure hurtful remarks?
Yes, almost whenever I’d go out. It would be common for someone to point at me and laugh.
I’d cross people on the street who’d say, ‘She looks smart from behind — but like a monster from the front.’
When I applied for jobs, I was turned away. I was told my face would scare clients.
A spurned stalker attacked you — what happened?
Well, he attacked at 10.30 in the morning with a big crowd around. No
one came forward to help. I kept asking for my father. I even rammed
into a couple of cars.
Then someone realised what was happening and poured water on me. One
man called the police, took me to hospital and became an eyewitness in
the case. I remember my skin melting and dripping off while i was being
transported. I had 45% burns. The doctors weren’t hopeful of my
The police were really helpful though. That evening, the police station was overflowing with suspects rounded up.
Eventually, the police zeroed in on the attacker.
Rejected men often attack women — why do other acid attacks happen?
Women get attacked for not having a male child. One woman had five
daughters. Her husband threw acid on her while she was pregnant because
she refused a sex determination test.
There are property disputes, domestic spats and rape cases where rapists force the victim to drink acid.
What do interactions with survivors teach?
When i first met such girls, i was shaken to the core — I realised I
wasn’t the only one. We draw strength from each other. We spread legal
and medical information. Meeting other survivors also makes us angry —
that anger helps.
What does independence mean to you?
Well, I celebrated Independence Day in school. We’d sing patriotic
songs and take pledges — but these should mean something, right? These
are not just words.
Women are not treated equally in our country. I feel men and women
should have the same kind of freedoms in India to do the same things —
freedom to wear their choice of clothes or anything else. That is independence.